Aah, these are the present men in my life. From left to right they are my sons Bryan, Aaron, husband, Jim and son, Dan. The two little guys are Bryan's sons: Elijah, 9 and Asher, 3.
We seem to only make Bell boys in this family. At least on the Jim Bell side -- his brother, Doug, has a daughter and the Muller side hasn't done much better as we have one niece now 42 and one great niece 19! (Weren't we taught in high school biology that the males rarely made it from conception to birth?)
Anyway, when I think back on my childhood, I often think God knew what he was doing in not giving me a daughter. It was tough enough raising boys, I doubt I would have survived raising a daughter who put me through what I put my mother through.
It was always my dream of mine to be a wife and mother. When I was in school, every time someone asked what career plans I had, I always hesitated. Can't I just be a mom that stays home and takes care of her children?!?
Jim and I met through a mutual friend. Our families knew each other and once Jim and I got to know each other, we both talked about getting married. We decided to move in together. This was while I was still in high school (shock-a-roo to all my high school chums, eh!?!). My dad had always stated that when we were 18 we could move out and make our own rules, until then -- and under his roof -- we had to follow his. (Sound familiar to any of you?) I was one of those rebellious kids that always took whatever they said literally and moved out five months after my 18th birthday!
After about a year of living together, I was getting uncomfortable not being, "Jim's wife" when introduced or introducing myself. I also wanted kids and didn't want to bring a child into the world outside of marriage. (Ok, I was old fashioned to a fault in some areas.) So we started making plans for our wedding. As I said, I had planned all this for years, so before we knew it all the plans were in place and instead of the October wedding date, we moved it up to July 10th!
We had a lovely ceremony in the Shokan Methodist Church (Jim's family were non-practicing Methodists) and had our reception at the Shokan Park. The day was perfect. No humidity. No major heat. I had handwritten all my invitations and made my own flower baskets for the bridesmaids. We splurged on the cake (done by an independent baker) and on the bridal bouquet, corsages and boutonnieres. Most of this we paid ourselves, but the parents insisted on paying for some things. When my mother found out Jim's parents were paying for the minister, she insisted paying for the food at the reception. Go for it! :)
Back to the men/boys in my life -- After we were married a few months, we thought about having children. I was out of work and we were adjusting to one income. I was more ready than Jim, I guess because I started crocheting baby clothes. My Aunt (she really wasn't an aunt, but a really good friend of my mom's) saw me crocheting and asked who it was for. When I replied, "my baby", she asked if I was pregnant. When I replied, "Not yet!" she laughed that I was preparing before I was even pregnant.
I believe we tried for several months (an eternity it seemed at the time) before I did get pregnant and in December of 1977, Bryan Bell was born. I always thought I would want to stay home with my children, wait until he or she was ready for Kindergarten and then get pregnant with then next one until I had four. Of course in my perfect plan I would have a boy, a girl, a boy and then finally another girl. We almost did that. NOT.
Aaron was born just shy of five years later in September 1982. I remember coming home from the hospital and stating to my sister, "Well, I can eventually put the two boys together in one room and use the other for our daughter." My sister just laughed and said something to the affect, "This one just got here and you're planning the next one!?!" I am always planning you see....always.
Well Dan came along a little quicker than expected in September of 1984. I tried hard to have a girl this time. When I had Aaron I took pink "horse" pills instead of blue ones. I tried to psyche myself into believing I would have a girl. It was even worse when I was expecting Dan. I wouldn't let anyone tell me it was a boy or think what would happen if it was another boy. However just two days before he was born, the nurse at my check-up listened to the baby's heartbeat and stated, "Whoa that's a boy, no doubt about it, listen to that heartbeat!" Another nurse came in and agreed. Shortly after that the doctor came in and said my blood pressure was high and I need to go home and rest.
That was not a problem as they had all given me shocking information (another BOY! no wonder my b/p was up!) that I had to chew on while I waited out the birth of this baby. Thankfully my sister had come to stay with us again to help out...cook, clean, play with the boys. So I remember sitting on my lounge chair soaking up the rays, thinking that I better adjust my thinking to this baby being another boy.
Dan was the first of our babies that Jim made it as my Lamaze coach. He was slightly unprepared for the first two, but now he thought he could handle it -- ya think? Anyway, he was Jim the Engineer with full gear! He had the stop watch, the clip board, the pencils and other supplies all ready to go when we arrived at the hospital. "Is that the start of contraction?" "You NEED to tell me so I can start the stop watch!" "What do you mean you have to get up to go to the bathroom? You're allowed to do that??" Oh, God, it was so funny.
Anyway we had our three little Bell boys, two blonds and one red head -- don't ask! They were the cutest little boys. Bryan was talkative (and still is), Aaron was quieter and shyer (still is until he's comfortable) and Dan will talk non-stop once he starts.
We always marveled at how different they were. I used to think Dan and Bryan were alike, but while they are in some ways, others they are not. Each one has their own strengths. Each one has their own talents. None of them are great athletes though they could have been. None of them like competitive sports. They all played soccer and tried other sports, but never were thrilled with it. Aaron was the only one to bring home trophies for bowling.
Then we entered the computer age. Bryan took off with it in his teen years. Dan, who by the time he was four we realized had a mechanical mind, took to computer games like a duck to water. Aaron tried to grasp and study it but it didn't come as easy for him. But if you needed a voice of reason, someone to tell us the direction we should go, or to be a mediator, Aaron was there and was excellent at it.
It is funny now to see where they are at in their careers and see how their personalities and traits have come through. Bryan always loved little kids (even though he fought with his brothers like crazy as a youngster). Bryan married at 21 to a wonderful young woman he had met when they were just three years old and has the two sons. He designs websites for Ariba in GA now.
Aaron is lucky to have survived the antics of his brother, Bryan. He was like a guinea pig. Bryan was so much older and want to shoot him up in the air off a teeter totter that he made himself. Needless to say, Aaron didn't fly very far ;). Aaron found his niche and now runs the computers for the inventory and shipping of a publishing company in Florida. He met a young woman that was born in NY, but raised in FL. They were just married this past June.
Dan used to have a fascination with fans as a baby and toddler. "Fan, fan!!!" He used to yell every time he saw a ceiling fan in a restaurant. He became a whiz on the computer thanks to his brothers, not to mention the time he put into playing the games on it. He now designs simulation videos for the armed forces -- believe it or not, the one simulation he loves working on involves helicopters! Do I see a correlation between the fans and the rotor??? ;)
Now we come my two beautiful, adorable, grandsons. They are so much fun! So cute and so full of energy. Since I am soooo experienced in raising boys, they can't quite pull a fast one on me like my kids did. I have to say they have a wonderful set of parents raising them too. Bryan is so much more strict than we were. (I still can't believe it!) But I love to watch my son, love his children in all aspects of their upbringing. He adores being a father and husband. Hmmmm sounds familiar... ;) It is so rewarding to see your children settle down and make plans for their lives and then follow through...hmmm, what new plans can we make today?